It was once said that former Petrolia mayor Ed Fletcher had brought more love to the hearts of people in Petrolia than did any other citizen, before or since.
The town’s affable chief magistrate is said to have delighted in his annual role
as Santa Claus, a function he performed with zeal for more than half a century. Each year during the Christmas season, he would join in local parades and provide thrills to young and old alike as he visited private residences, the CEE Hospital, and local nursing
Edwin Douglas Fletcher was born in Alvinston on April 20, 1875, the son Annie and E.D. Fletcher Sr. His family arrived in Petrolia in 1878, when he was but three years of age. A few years later, his father, who had been successfully engaged
in the oil business, purchased the Grant Trunk Hotel, which later became the Fletcher House (now Helen’s Hideaway).
While still in his teens, young Ed joined his parents in the hotel business and remained in that enterprise until 1934, when the
hotel was sold. In 1898, he married Annie Robertson of Wyoming. They were the first couple to be married in the present Presbyterian Church in Wyoming.
While still in the hotel business he, in partnership with his wife, started a confectionary
business and soda fountain on the south side of Petrolia Line, where Lilith’s is now located. In later years, after leaving the hotel business, they continued in the confectionary business and also added a florist business. In all, Ed Fletcher was in
business on Petrolia’s main street for more than 70 years.
In addition to his business interests, he somehow found time to join a number of fraternal organizations and service clubs, do church work, and volunteer for every type of patriotic and
He sat on municipal council for two years and served as mayor from 1948 to 1950 and again in 1952. He had also served on the fire brigade, beginning as a “torch boy,” carrying the oil-filled torches to give the fireman
light at night prior to the wide-spread existence of electric street lights. From there he worked his way up the ranks and served as the town’s fire chief for 14 years.
He was also known for his amazing baritone voice, which over the years, gave
countess audiences considerable pleasure when he would belt out old favourites such as “Scots Wha Hae” and Annie Laurie. He was a fixture in the choir of St. Andrew’s Church for more than 60 years.
Fraternally, he was a member of the
Knights of Pythias Lodge, serving a term as District Deputy Grand Chancellor. He was also a member of Petrolia’s Washington Masonic Lodge No. 260. He was a founding member of the Petrolia Lion’s Club and for many years was the club’s Lion
Tamer, the duties of which were to lead the singing and keep the meetings pepped up. In 1957, Ed Fletcher was named Senior Citizen of the Year by the Petrolia Rotary Club.
Ed and Annie Fletcher celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1948 and
were given a gala reception and luncheon on the occasion. Annie Fletcher passed away in 1956. They had one son, Heath Fletcher, who was a Petrolia barrister.
Edwin D. Fletcher died February 18, 1962 and many of the older folks around town have
often commented that he sang at his own funeral. At his request, a tape recording of “The Holy City” in his own baritone voice was played during the service.
In his funeral address, Rev. R. U. MacLean of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian
Church said in closing: “He leaves in our hearts a blessed memory and a name that is written on many of the pages of Petrolia’s history.”